This is a guest post by Brittany Leaning, the Social Media Manager at HubSpot. She is responsible for creating, managing, measuring, and scaling organic social media efforts across HubSpot’s various accounts in order to generate leads and grow reach. Brittany is also the author of the Step-by-Step Guide to LinkedIn’s New Company Pages and she is a regular contributor to HubSpot’s award winning internet marketing blog.
Your company’s level of social influence has a huge impact on how users trust and take to your brand. Of course, you need to build trust first in order to actually grow your influence. Sounds like a chicken and the egg scenario, wouldn’t you say? We recommend these 7 steps to build trust and grow your social influence simultaneously:
1. Connect With Fans, Influencers, and Other Brands
First things first, before you can increase your social influence, you need to complete your company’s profile information. What does your company sell or specialize in? What do you want users to know about your company’s values? Your goal should be to create a social media presence that is informative, recognizable, relate-able and approachable. Once you have the baseline information down, look for people and brands to connect with. It’s always great to start with your biggest fans, loyal customers, and talkative evangelists. Next, make sure you are connecting with top industry leaders. Don’t forget to connect with your competitors too! This will give you an opportunity to learn what others around your industry are doing and get your name out there as another force to be reckoned with. By connecting with like minded people, you will begin to develop a community that will lead you to be successful with your next 6 steps.
2. Be a Thought Leader For Your Industry
Social media allows for ample opportunities to get your company’s name out there as an industry expert. What have you learned from the thought leaders you follow that you can pass on to your own fans? Is there something you’d do differently that you want to communicate? A great way to expand your company’s influence is by participating in Twitter chats and LinkedIn Discussions. Although these are generally outlets for human interaction, your employees can hop in on their personal accounts and vouch for your brand as a resource to your industry. By being the leader of a chat or starting a group based on your company’s values and specialties, you are playing the ‘expert’ role and giving users a reason to trust and follow your company’s influence.
[DataSift tip] Instead of running simple keyword searches then sifting through topics in interfaces not set up for effective analysis, set up a filter using the DataSift Trends augmentation. This filter can track trending topics and news automatically and the data can be exported to an analysis database or even Excel. When sorted by tagged topic, location and more, trends that you might never have thought of can appear.
3. Link Online and Offline Activity
Your social influence isn’t just about what your company does online, the offline activities count too! It’s when you mesh the two together that you get the ultimate level of social influence. A great example of this unity would be creating a hashtag for a conference or tradeshow. By doing this, you know who of your current followers is attending your event, but you can also pick up on who’s attending that you’re not following yet. Creating a Twitter list of attendees (like HubSpot did for #INBOUND12) helps users and attendees feel a relatable connection to your brand and gives them a reason to follow, subscribe to, and share your updates.
[DataSift tip] To get even more from your event hashtags, target the people located near your event with the DataSift Geographical Data filter.
4. Build a Community
Is there a specific topic or niche that your company is really passionate about that doesn’t exist as a Twitter chat yet? How about a LinkedIn Group? Even creating a hashtag for an event (as mentioned in Step 3) is a great way to connect people who are experiencing the same things and gives them a reason to associate with your brand. You know you’ve been successful with creating a community when something your company started is running on its own. Meaning, when you are not posting updates, other members of the community are stepping in and starting discussions with other fans. You’ve completely taken your success to the next level when fans are discussing about your products and services without any actual persuasion from your brand. This should be your ultimate goal for this step, but understand that building a community takes time and strategy to execute accurately.
5. Actively Listen
Are you actually hearing what your fans have to say? Have you set up your social media monitoring in a way that picks up cues and subtle signals, to indicate if a fan is interested in your products or resources? You can broadcast your messages all you want on social media, but the only way users are going to trust you as an influencer is if you become the go-to resource for all things X, or you actually care about your fans’ needs and humanize your brand. How do you know what your community wants and needs if you don’t take the time to hear them out? You need to learn to listen before you can make it to Step 6, which is all about engaging your audience.
[DataSift tip] If you have the DataSift Demographics augmentation enabled, you can quickly pinpoint your audience by gender, age, follower type, likes and interests and more. With this knowledge, you can target sub-groups of your followers with specific messages that appeal most effectively.
6. Engage Your Audience
When you feel your company can appropriately jump into a conversation that you have been actively listening to, it’s time to start engaging! Don’t be spammy and obnoxious. Build trust and only jump in when you have the true solution to your fan’s problem. A great way to start engaging is by discussing various industry topics as two humans would. The next step here would be offering some helpful blog posts, ebooks, or webinars that back up your company’s opinion and confirm their level of expertise. Be the go-to resource for your industry and prove that you are a trustworthy influencer. If you’re not producing content that generates likes, shares, comments, @ mentions, and RTs, you’re not going to be seen as a very influential user. Be as relatable and helpful as possible with your content so your fans want to share your knowledge with their friends.
[DataSift tip] If you enable the NewsCred data source on the DataSift Platform, you can ensure you have the most current and relevant news, allowing you to always be a proactive thought leader with your fans.
7. Measure Your Results
How do you know the progress of your social media influence if you don’t measure your results? At HubSpot, we are completely driven by data. We have even been caught saying, “data is a marketer’s best friend,” and we’re sure DataSift would agree. If you want to actually know the level of success you’ve achieved instead of guessing, you’ll need to use some level of metrics to analyze your influence. Record your baseline metrics before starting your social influence project so you will learn how you’re scaling and progressing based on your goals. Measure your reach growth over time to see how many fans and followers you’re earning. Finally, check out your company’s score on Klout and Kred to see what level of social influence it has compared to others in your industry. You will know exactly how well you are progressing if you measure your results every step of the way.
[DataSift tip] The bitly data source allows you to go beyond measurement to actual engagement. Upon launch of a program to your social audience, track click thrus of your campaigns as well as click thrus of anyone else who generated their own Tweets, Likes and posts about your program. When combined with a marketing automation platform, you’ll have visibility across all online sources.
Are you ready to take your social influence to the next level?
Connecting with fans is great, but how do you make sure you’re reaching out to all of the right people? How can you be confident in that you don’t miss out on any important interactions? With a social media platform, you can monitor and track every person and conversation about your company, industry, events, and competitors.